Senator asks social networks, carriers to preserve evidence from Capitol riot

Facebook, Twitter and Parler are some of the companies under pressure.

Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Tech companies are under pressure to support officials investigating the Capitol Hill riot. Senator Mark Warner of Virginia has sent letters to eleven tech companies urging them to preserve evidence linked to the mob that invaded the House and Senate. Most of them are social networks including Facebook, Gab, Parler, Signal, Telegram and Twitter. The requests also went out to Apple, Google as well as carriers like AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon (Engadget’s parent company).

In each case, Warner noted that the rioters went out of their way to record the event, whether it was taking photos, sending messages or even livestreaming their actions. That and related info like metadata and cloud backups could be “critical evidence” for the FBI and victim lawsuits, the senator said.

Warner didn’t give the companies a deadline for a response. Twitter declined to comment at this time, but a Facebook spokesperson told Engadget it was maintaining an “ongoing, proactive outreach to law enforcement” and was responding “quickly” to requests by deleting content, removing accounts and otherwise cooperating with investigations. We’ve also asked Apple for comment.

This isn’t a legally binding request. It might also be difficult for some of the companies to comply. Messaging services like Signal and Telegram have end-to-end encryption that prevents the creators themselves from accessing chats, for instance.

Still, the tech firms might be compelled to respond. Warner is the new Chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee — he could lead investigations and other actions in response to the Capitol breach.